What is Fileless Malware
By Nick Anderson 4 minutes
Hackers are always hard at work cooking new ways to infiltrate a system and remain undetected while they steal your data. These methods often leave security experts baffled – and even impressed – because the attacks target vulnerabilities that they thought did not exist.
The cyber-threats known as malware which continues to take various nefarious forms. One of such is called Fileless Malware. It is a relatively new threat, but one that is lethal because it escapes detection. How exactly? Read on to learn more.
What is a Malware?
Malware is an umbrella term given to malicious software, hence the name Malware. It encompasses all such software that aims to target a system for the purpose of infecting the system. There are various types of malware but they all work towards the common goal of causing harm.
Over the year, antivirus software have been active in identifying and eliminating new malware that pop up every now and then. The most common malware have been categorized in following:
What Makes Fileless Malware Different
Typically, malware first installs itself on your computer then proceeds to infect the entire system. It is a program that is sitting somewhere on your storage. But Fileless Malware does not – it does not leave a footprint in the storage, which makes it even more dangerous. It attaches itself to legitimate programs and processes such as Windows PowerShell and Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) that are trusted processes.
PowerShell is native to the Windows operating. It is used to automate tasks using scripts in command-line. Including PowerShell and WMI, other programs such as Microsoft Word are trusted programs that don’t raise red flags and are considered in the white-list category. A Fileless Malware would essentially attach itself to such program that’s running in the memory.
Because the malware is not saved anywhere except system memory it becomes difficult to detect and quarantine them, especially during forensics – it evades known signatures. Even if you run a scan on the system memory, not every anti-virus is capable of detecting it.
You could restart your computer because the malware resides on a volatile memory. Turning off the system will wipe all programs in the memory. But there are Fileless Malware that persist after a restart, because they use Windows registry to hide, then rerun on startup. Fileless Malware is also a lateral malware, it can travel to other systems on the network.
What Can You Do Against Fileless Malware?
Malware exist on our systems because we allow it. Developers of such codes hope on the user’s lack of awareness and technical know-how. But the good news is that whether it’s fileless malware or any other type of malware, you can take certain steps to prevent infecting your system.
- Don’t click on links that appear to be suspicious. Once you load that through your web browser and into your memory, it can inject itself in other processes.
- Always install trusted programs and from trusted sources.
- Read everything during the setup process for any other program that is trying to ask for installation. Always be careful about clicking “Next” on every screen.
- Install a reliable and robust Anti-virus that is capable of detecting and eliminating such high-risk threats. Its database must be kept to update automatically so that it can always stay updated about new threats.
There are several ways an attacker can target you to deliver malware to your system. For example, you could become a victim of a Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attack that routes you to fake login pages or ask you to download malicious files. Stay protected on the internet with FastestVPN that secures communication with military-grade encryption.